The Bull Inn, a picturesque 17th century thatched building and the only pub in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton, nearly closed for good in 2013 until it was saved by the rapid co-operation of the residents.
When they heard in December 2012 that the brewery was selling the pub they called a public meeting and decided to set up a community benefit society to raise investment to buy it. At the end of April, after a successful share issue that raised £300,000 from 157 investors, The Bull Inn was bought by the Great Milton Community Pub Limited.
This was the quickest community buyout of a pub so far, and Steve Harrod, the chairman of the society, puts it down to the support they received from the Plunkett Foundation, which has pioneered the co-operative ownership of pubs in recent years. There are now (in May 2015) 35 co-operative pubs in the UK and more are being planned.
Steve Harrod said: “We looked at a number of different options, and the people from Plunkett were very helpful. We bought and took over the Bull without any interruption of service. And since then business has been brilliant, fantastic, booming”.
In July 2013 the pub had a bizarre day in the media spotlight when it was used as a location in the filming of the Christmas episode of Midsomer Murders. On the hottest day of the year, winter came to The Bull Inn.
The telephone and broadband services at The Bull Inn are provided by The Phone Co-op. “They were the obvious choice,” said Steve Harrod.
The Phone Co-op is delighted to provide services to community-owned enterprises like The Bull Inn.
Guy Ohlenschlager, Corporate Sales Manager at The Phone co-op, said: “No business is considered too small. We go out of our way to provide the best service for every customer. Helping rural communities and supporting local services are part of our social and environmental objectives.”
The Phone Co-op has formed a partnership with the Plunkett Foundation, the long-established organisation that helps rural communities take control of issues that affect them. The two organisations have a natural affinity and many shared values.
Members of Plunkett Community Enterprise can get special discounted packages of telecoms and internet services. The Co-operative Business Telecoms also operates a Start-Up and Expansion Fund for new and growing community enterprises. For more information click here.
Harriet English, Membership Manager at the Plunkett Foundation, said: “Choosing suppliers that offer excellent value for money and good customer service is of paramount importance to the community co-operative network. That’s why we don’t hesitate to recommend The Phone Co-op to members of the Plunkett Community Enterprise Network”.
For more about the Great Milton Co-operative Pub please visit their website.